The Friday that should’ve been a Monday

by Katie on April 4, 2011

This past Friday was just one of those days where we question what we do.

Temporarily, of course. But question nonetheless.

It basically began at the stroke of midnight, and was unceasing through the wee hours of Saturday morning. Needless to say, this is quite a lengthy tale.

To begin, we had each arrived at our far west fields at different times during the middle of the night to find our water order much lower than it was supposed to be. This resulted in us having to make several calls to the irrigation district during the night, which we hate nearly as much as I’m sure they do. We also knew this meant there was no way we would finish by 6pm on Friday (when the water was going to shut off) and we would have to order more. More water equals more money. And time.

Then, to top it off, Brandon was pulled over somewhere around 2am. For the lights over the license plate being out on the farm truck. Which translates into:  a reason to pull someone over in the middle of the night to see what kind of no-good they are up to. Let’s just say we’ve had our share of this sort of stop on night irrigation runs. It’s always funny (not really) to see the dramatic attitude change in the patrolman when he finds out a)we are the farm-owners, rather than illegal laborers, which we’re certain is what they’re hoping to find b)we have impeccable driving and criminal records, even though we are out running the roads at 3am – we typically both state we would much prefer to be sleeping soundly, but farm duty calls, Patrol Dude.

During this ordeal, though, Brandon also realized the registration for the farm truck had expired two weeks earlier. We didn’t realize it, because apparently, we had mistakenly placed the sticker from his truck, with a June expiration date, on the license plate. We had wondered for months what could have happened to that sticker, and had paid $5 to get a replacement. Without either of us thinking to look on our other vehicles.

Then, mid-morning, I was headed back from a water change when Brandon called and asked me to hurry to meet him at the fields near our house. I did. And found this:Another farming accident

That would be our tractor, and the implement he was using, with a telephone pole between the two. A problem, to say the least.

The first thing he asked for was a shovel. But, of course, in typical Katie fashion, I then realized I had left my shovel on the ditchbank at my last water change. So off I went to retrieve another one. Brandon nearly couldn’t contain all the love in his heart for me at that moment.

I was back soon enough, and that’s when I began snapping pictures. Because really, how do you not record that typical Brandon moment right there? Smarty pants me, taking pictures while he shoveled.

A while later, after both of us had a turn on the shovel, and were equally covered in sweat, grease and hydraulic oil, I had to move my truck in case the tractor decided to slide down the dirt mountain when Brandon tried to maneuver the equipment around the telephone pole.

Well, guess where I had placed our brand new camera when I finished snapping pictures? Let’s just say not in a place where it wouldn’t get run over by a half-ton truck when it was placed in gear. That’s right. My thinking cap was ON that day, let me tell you.

When I recovered the camera from the dirt, and turned it over to find a smashed display screen, tears immediately started streaming down my cheeks. Which is a little out of character for this girl. But I was overcome with guilt for being so stupid and ruining something that expensive.

Brandon saw the tears behind my sunglasses, and asked what was wrong. I couldn’t speak, so I just held up our shattered camera. Then he told me not to cry because it was making him feel bad.

It’s not like he caused the crying. Well…technically, if he hadn’t done something so picture-worthy, and not requested my help, it never would have happened. But we won’t get technical.

Eventually, I got over it for the moment, and we were able to safely remove the tractor and implement from the telephone pole, without Brandon nosediving off the seven foot dirt mound. Which was all well and good.

So, we head home, since Brandon was already on track to be late to a meeting two hours away. No lie, half a mile down the road, I passed the tractor, then glanced in my rearview mirror to see oil gushing below it. So I slam on my brakes, signal for Brandon to pull over, then head to the house to retrieve his truck with the tools required to fix the oil leak.

Some time later, we were both on the road again. Brandon, headed to his meeting (late), and me, off to spend the hottest afternoon on record (as in, ever) for April 1st starting a gazillion pipes (really, only a total of sixty or so throughout the afternoon, but I’m allowed to exaggerate, right?).

In the middle of all that, I had to take our farm truck to an auto shop to have our “service engine” light cleared and problem solved so it would pass an emissions test and be able to receive a renewed registration. The auto shop was a breeze. The emissions place? Not so much.

I learned something about vehicles that day. After the battery/alternator/computer are tampered with, they must complete a full “drive cycle” before they will be deemed “ready” for an emissions test. Who knew. Definitely not this girl. So that item on the to-do list was a “fail” and also meant we would spend the weekend driving a farm truck with expired registration. Lovely.

The rest of the afternoon was fairly uneventful. Until sometime just before 10pm. Brandon was almost home from his meeting, and I was finishing up my last water change before Brandon took over until around 2 or 3am (then our next shift change would take place, and I would again be in charge until our employee arrived between 6 and 7, so each of us would get some sort of sleep).

As I was pulling the last metal ditch check I needed from the truck, I noticed it seemed unusually heavy. Twenty seconds later, when a second large metal ditch check (which had been stuck to it) landed squarely on my big toe, I found out why.

So, there I was, hopping around, hollering out into the night, right there beside the ditch. I kept thinking it would stop hurting so bad any second, but several minutes later, when it hadn’t let up, I kicked off my irrigation boot to find half my sock covered in soaked-up blood.

This led me to call Brandon and wail into the phone, “I think I broke my tooooeee!”

A solid 45 minutes away, there was nothing he could do, so he insisted upon calling his parents. I mentioned it was 10pm, right? I insisted upon him not calling his parents. That I could manage just fine, thankyouverymuch.

He got off the phone anyway. In that 60 seconds, I did manage to throw in my check to stop water, and high-dollar fertilizer, from just running down the ditch. But quickly realized there was no way I would be straddling the ditch to place the piece of plastic over the check to stop leaking water, nor would be hopping across it to level up the water and close ports.

So I called him back to say maybe I needed his parents after all, but only for the water. Not for my bleeding toe. He said they were already on their way (bless them).

Not five minutes later, I see them barreling down the road, a solid 20mph over the speed limit, I’m guessing. His dad took over my water, while his mom insisted upon driving me home, where they both waited on me hand and foot (pun unintended), not even letting me stand up, until Brandon arrived home.

When I finally had the courage to remove my sock (no way did I want to see what was under all that pain and blood), I breathed a huge sigh of relief at what I found. At that point, I was almost expecting to see toe-bones protruding in every-which direction, but it ended up not being bad at all. In fact, I told Brandon he was going to be disappointed when he saw it. I know I was.

But, we all agreed I was being placed on the injury list, at least as far as irrigating went. Which meant Brandon would be pulling an all-nighter on water duty, effective immediately.

We spent the rest of the night (every 1.5 hours when the alarm went off, then when he came back in 15 minutes later from the water change) apologizing to each other:  him, for my toe; me, for him not getting any sleep.

We were very grateful for two things we had done to plan ahead:  I had already traveled to our far west field early Friday evening and had the ditch ready to go for our 6am water delivery Saturday; Brandon had shut off the other water for 6pm Saturday, just thinking we would both need a rest by then, not knowing it would only be him.

So, to recap the Friday that certainly felt like a Monday:

  • Irrigation water short
  • Pulled over at 2am
  • Realize farm truck registration is expired
  • Wrap tractor/implement around telephone pole on six-foot mound of dirt
  • Have an oil tank blowout 1/2 mile later
  • Ran over brand new camera
  • Late to meeting
  • Starting pipes in record-breaking heat
  • No-go on emissions test to correct expired farm truck registration
  • Inconvenient, injured-list inducing toe injury
  • No sleep

I think we both kept waiting all day for the skies to open up, boom “April Fool’s!” and give us the chance to start over.

But, once again, the sun is shining, and alfalfa prices are still climbing.

So even a day like this is a good day to be a farmer in our book.

It is a full three days later, mind you.

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